In their op-ed column in today's Boston Globe, former Senator John Edwards and John Wilhelm, president of the UNITE HERE hotel workers union, concentrate on the working poor - and more pointedly American hotel workers:
The consulting firm Ernst & Young, in its outlook on the hotel and lodging industry, says: ''The Good Times Continue to Roll." But good times for whom? Profits have risen to pre-9/11 levels, yet the average wage for a housekeeper is below the poverty line. Hotel chains are finding the money to invest in their image, their grounds, and their rooms, while wages for hotel workers remain far too low. Hotel chains are investing more in imported cotton sheets, yet relatively less in wages for workers.
Hotel workers all across this country believe in the American ethic based on the principle that hard work can lead to a better future. They do not lack motivation, dedication, or skill. What they lack is power. About 90,000 workers in the hotel industry are represented by the union UNITE HERE. In such cities as New York and San Francisco, where UNITE HERE has made significant progress on behalf of workers, wages are significantly higher than in cities where most workers do not belong to a union.
Hotel workers who belong to unions have been able to save money, buy homes, and give their children more opportunities. Imagine what it would mean for such cities and towns as Boston, Lynn, and Framingham if the wages for hotel workers could match the wages of disappearing manufacturing jobs. These families would be able to move out of poverty and into the middle class, which would help reinvigorate these communities.
To support the hard work of hotel workers by giving them more opportunities to achieve the American dream, we are launching the "Hotel Workers Rising" campaign. Our goal is to build a broad coalition of hotel workers, community activists, religious leaders, political leaders, and people of conscience to encourage the hotel industry to make good on the American promise.
Related Stories: + LA Times - Union Aims to Build Momentum as It Prepares for National Hotel Talks + San Francisco Chronicle - Hotel workers kick off campaign in SF + New York Times - Eye on Presidency and Ear on Hotel Workers' Grievances + BeyondChron.org - Over 2000 Rally in SF Kickoff for National Hotel Workers Rising